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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live a rich, rewarding life despite living with chronic health challenges. It is also for anyone wanting to know how to optimize subjective wellbeing by learning how to fully engage in a life of practice that is based on living by your own personal life values.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are evidence-based published articles that relate to mindfulness-based practices. Wednesday posts are videos of seminars or interviews. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: What is the best way to improve self-acceptance?

ANSWER: Many experts have written about self-acceptance. However, different things work for different people. What appears below is what I have personally found to be most effective and it is how I live my life.

Whenever I start to engage in self-criticism, I remind myself that my goal is not perfection, but rather to simply be living by my personal life values. When I notice that my behavior is contrary to my values, I acknowledge to myself that mistakes make me human and that I’m practicing living on a path that is about moment-to-moment experience rather than perfection or the striving for some mythical end goal. For me, being on the path, which could also be expressed as living a life of practice, is what matters most.

I highly recommend reading two life-changing little books: Mastery by George Leonard and The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner. These two books changed my life and will hopefully help you to adopt the view that daily life itself is practice. Instead of expecting to master a certain skill or achieve a specific goal, these books will help you to accept practice for the sake of practice.

In practicing something just for the sake of practicing, the pressure to excel or to achieve a certain goal is off, which will paradoxically make it more likely to achieve that goal. When the goal is self-acceptance, the act of viewing all our behavior as practice leads to the ability to accept our mistakes and flaws as simply part of the game of life.

As I go through my day, whenever I notice an unpleasant thought or emotion, I remind myself that life practice itself is all that matters. I don’t live to meet goals—I live to practice, which commonly results in meeting goals. But the achievement of a goal is best accomplished by devoting oneself to practice without any emotional attachment to achieving the goal.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health?
Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. I will post a reply to your comment, but your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

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